Incident Summary:

09/01/2010: James Lee took three hostages, two employees and the security guard, at the Discovery Communications headquarters building in Silver Spring, Maryland in the United States. Lee entered the building at about 1:00pm waving a starter pistol (which was believed to be a gun at the time), with four crude explosive strapped to his body, two were propane cylinders with pipes attached that contained shotgun shells, and the other two were pipe bombs. Lee also had a second starter pistol on him as he held the hostages for four hours as negotiators spoke with him. Lee was motivated by his disapproval of the Discovery network's television programming and in his manifesto on the internet, he laid out 11 demands for the network to change it's programming to focus on sterilization and infertility of humans rather than showcasing overpopulation, and Lee viewed the shows to be doing little to save the planet. When one hostage tried to run, Lee pointed a pistol at him, at which time Lee was shot to death by police snipers. All three hostages were freed unharmed and the rest of the 1,900 employees of the building were able to escape unharmed as well.



United States

North America

region/u.s. state:


Silver Spring

Location Details:
The incident occurred at 1 Discovery Place at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Colesville Road in Silver Spring, MD

Attack Information
Type of Attack (more) Hostage Taking (Barricade Incident)
Successful Attack? (more) Yes
Target Information (more)
Target Type: Journalists & Media
Name of Entity Discovery Communications
Specific Description Discovery Communications headquarters offices and employees
Nationality of Target United States
Additional Information
Hostages Yes
Number of Hostages 3
US Hostages 3
Hours of Kidnapping 4
Days of Kidnapping 0
Outcome Successful Rescue
Ransom No
Property Damage No
Weapon Information
Type Sub-type
Explosives Suicide (carried bodily by human being)
Fake Weapons
Weapon Details
two starter pistols, four IEDs (two propane cylinders strapped to body with pipes holding shotgun shells, and two pipe bombs)
Additional Information
Suicide Attack?Yes
Part of Multiple Incident?No
Criterion 1 (more) Yes
Criterion 2 (more) Yes
Criterion 3 (more) Yes
Doubt Terrorism Proper (more) No
Additional Information Articles disagree as to whether or not an explosive device strapped on Lee actually detonated as he was shot by police, or if it was disarmed afterward. Four more bombs were also found at a residence in Maryland. In 2008, Lee pled guilty to disorderly conduct for protesting outside the Discovery building.
Perpetrator Group Information
Group Name Claimed Responsibility
Unknown No
Perpetrator Statistics
Number of Perpetrators 1
Number of Captured Perpetrators 0
Casualty Information
Total Number of Casualties 1 Fatalities / 0 Injured
Total Number of Fatalities 1
Number of U.S. Fatalities 1
Number of Perpetrator Fatalities 1
Total Number of Injured 0
Number of U.S. Injured 0
Number of Perpetrators Injured 0
CNN Staff, "Gunman at Discovery Channel HQ shot dead, hostages rescued,", September 1, 2010.
"Gunman's body removed from Discovery building," Associated Press Online, September 2, 2010.
"More Bombs Found in Discovery Standoff Case,", September 2, 2010.